Republican Sour Grapes
The Confirmation Hearings
President Obama's candidate to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, has been grilled recently by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee about a comment she made nearly ten years ago. The irony of the Republican grilling at a nominee described by Sean Hannity as a "liberal activist judge" is that she was originally appointed to the Federal Bench by President George Herbert Walker Bush.
What is most obvious from the confirmation hearings is none of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have any substantive disagreement with Sotomayor. After 18 years of sitting on the bench with over 3000 opinions to her credit, very little has been said about her judicial record. Instead, the Republican members of the committee have grasped at straws and solely concentrated on Sotomayor's "Wise Latina" statement apparently insulted that she would insinuate that a minority could actually be smarter than a white male. Yet, while doing this, some of the members have managed to be respectful and have done their cause and issues well. But the ranking member of the committee, who was rejected by the same committee has no moral standing to attack and accuse Sotomayor of anything given his background.
Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in the Junior Senator from Alabama. Named after Jefferson Davis, Sessions is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, Sessions has been the most vocal opponent to the candidate. He repeatedly brings up the "Wise Latina" comment. Sessions stated: ""I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their own personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision."
Perhaps Sessions is engaging in a practice most would call sour grapes. Sessions was nominated to the Federal Bench in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. However, Sessions nomination was not even voted out of committee.
The reason Sessions was not confirmed is evidence surfaced that Sessions was, in fact, a racist. Sessions was quoted as saying, "I thought the Klu Klux Klan was a pretty good group of guys until I heard they smoked pot." Sessions claims it was a joke.
However, unlike Judge Sotomayor, Senator Sessions has a history of less than sensitive opinions about minorities. During his confirmation hearings in 1986, Sessions referred to the NAACP and the ACLU as "un-American" and "Communist inspired" because they had the audacity to "force civil rights down people's throats."
Before the nomination, Sessions also made news. In 1985, Sessions prosecuted three civil rights workers, including a former aide to Martin Luther King, Jr.,on a case for election fraud. Sessions spent hours interrogating African American voters and was able to come up with 14 suspected tampered ballots out of the 1.7 ballots case. It took the Alabama jury all of 4 hours to acquit the civil rights workers of all charges. Further, Sessions has called any white civil rights lawyer a race traitor and commonly called African American lawyers "Boy."
Jeff Sessions now seeks to attack Judge Sonia Sotomayor for a statement she made giving a speech ten years ago despite the fact that her judicial record shows no signs of impartiality or unfairness. Republican Sour Grapes.
By Contrast, Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham is the senior Senator from South Carolina. He currently serves on the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees of the Senate.
Graham too, grilled Sotomayor on a number of issues. He questioned her temperament, judicial philosophies and membership in what he deems as a liberal group. Yet, Senator Graham asked his questions with the skill of a true lawyer; respectful, deliberate and professional. His questions were difficult and pointed, yet in no way unfair. When Sotomayor could not provide an adequate answer, which did happen, Graham did not let her free.
Unlike Sessions, however, at no time did Graham appear to be enjoying the moment. He simply appeared as a man who sincerely believes in his causes and had honest concerns about the nominee. Not to mention Graham is not saddled with Sessions' history.
While Liberals may not like the questions Senator Graham asked or the skill in which he fired them at the nominee, Senator Graham did his party, constituents and nation a service. Jeff Sessions' time asking questions was simply a service to himself and an attempt to exact revenge.
Associate Justice Sotomayor
The good news is despite Sessions' obvious bias, Sotomayor will be confirmed. And most likely she will receive Republican votes. She is qualified, experienced and intelligent and will make a good justice. One that all Americans can take pride in.
It is appropriate for conservatives to question Sotomayor on her judicial philosophy and even the "Wise Latina" comment. In fact, it is their duty. Yet, as Senator Sessions shows the background of the person asking the tough questions and making decisions matters. Hopefully Sessions will follow his own advice and not allow "personal background, gender, prejudices, or sympathies" sway his decision.
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